A total number of 265 mental cases among children were reported at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital from January to June this year.
This number represents a significant increase as compared to the 231 cases recorded for the whole of last year.
The mental cases included acute psychosis, neurosis, depression and drug abuse.
The commonest among them was drug abuse, which involved alcohol, cannabis and cocaine. The most abused drugs were marijuana and cocaine.
The victims of drug abuse were from first and second cycle institutions in the country. The Deputy Director in charge of Nursing Services of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Mrs Ethel A. Lartey, in an interview, said usually the students visited the hospital when they became casualties and behaved abnormally.
Asked why the number was increasing, Mrs Lartey pointed out that most of the students visited the hospitals themselves when they realised that something was wrong with them while others were brought in by their teachers or parents.
She said, for instance, that students usually came on educational tour and when they were briefed and taken round the wards to see the in-patients, some of them broke down and confessed their involvement in the drugs.
She said usually when they visited the hospital, they were taken through various therapies such as the recreational, drug and psychological therapy.
Mrs Lartey said when a patient was undergoing these therapies and was able to avoid the drug for even a day, it was a great achievement.
She said most of the time the victims were lured into it by their friends and the drug barons used the youth, especially as couriers, because they had a slogan “catch them young and they would get hooked on it forever”.
Mrs Lartey said when anyone took the drug, they felt high and claimed they saw God while others said they could study very well but was quick to add that they were all fallacies.
She advised the youth to beware of what they took from their friends in school because some students put marijuana in 'shito', while others used it as tea.
Mrs Lartey said depending on one's body composition, one could take marijuana and suffer its effect immediately or later and for this reason, students should avoid it completely.
She noted that when a patient was discharged, he was monitored by the nurses who went to their schools to find out their progress.
She said presently, her outfit was intensifying its outreach programmes to educate people about the dangers of drugs so as to curb the menace of drug abuse.
Story by Hannah A. Amoah